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On With Dark Clouds on the Horizon, Can Financial Innovation Keep Distributed Solar Shining?

The value of solar would be an excellent candidate for your Seeking Consensus column. There is considerable debate on this topic, and I'm not sure you've adequately accounted for the value solar can provide to a system. It is indeed highly system or location contingent. But replacing fuel and the capital at a central station power plant is certainly not the only value solar can provide. 

Cheers,

Jesse

March 11, 2014    View Comment    

On With Dark Clouds on the Horizon, Can Financial Innovation Keep Distributed Solar Shining?

Thanks all for the thoughtful comments.

March 11, 2014    View Comment    

On FERC Affirms Support for Removing Market Barriers to Energy Storage, Other Clean Energy Resources

Hi John,

Markets for ancillary services often have minimum sizes for participation, so as to limit transaction costs. That's why there is a growing segment of "aggregators" who act as intermediaries between many small, distributed providers of ancillary services and the TSO markets. For example, EnerNOC plays this role in capacity markets in the PJM region, where they aggregate large amounts of demand response and bid the aggregate into capacity markets and other ancillary services. PJM then deals with one counter-party - EnerNOC - who in turn must manage the many smaller providers of services they engage with. It's thus on the aggregator, and not the TSO, to manage these many kilowatt-size market participants, and to the TSO, the aggregator looks like one big megawatt-sized provider. 

In addition, I'm not sure that having many small providers is worse for system stability than fewer large providers. In fact, I would assume that many more distributed providers of services would be preferred from a redundancy and reliability perspective, since you have more finer increments of supply on your supply curve and you have less chance of one major provider of supply going offline when you need it. So perhaps the opposite is true: lots of smaller providers of the same aggregate quantity of service is better from a system management perspective, assuming that transaction costs can be minimized and managed (which is the role of the aggregator). Thoughts?

Jesse

March 1, 2014    View Comment    

On FERC Affirms Support for Removing Market Barriers to Energy Storage, Other Clean Energy Resources

John, while the transmission system operator (TSO/ISO/RTO depending on where you are) is ultimately responsible for managing the power system, the terms of contracts for the provision of ancillary services invariably include liability clauses, such that if a contracted provider fails to provide ancillary services, they will be penalized by the transmission system operator (or the courts if necessary). Moving from bilateral contracts to more active multi-lateral markets can also add market rules, competition, and clear penalties for failure to provide these services. Transmission system operators have adequate experience with procuring all kinds of services, from energy to spinning reserves to secondary reserves to frequency regulation to capacity through various market mechanisms or contracting procedures. I think it's a bit of a stretch to imply that opening these markets to new actors undermines the TSO/ISO/RTO's ability to do its job, rather than enhances its ability.

March 1, 2014    View Comment    

On Why You Don't Need Fossil Fuel to Fight Poverty. (Clean Energy Does it Better!)

Paul, I agree 100% with the sentiment that we need to be building scalable, modern energy systems for everyone. I doubt Todd disagrees either. My point is you need to be careful not to put words in other people's mouths. The idea that installing PV systems is tantamount to condeming people to "eat insects" is also pretty laughable. Sorry, but tone down the rhetoric and try to keep this conversation focused on solutions.

Jesse

February 27, 2014    View Comment    

On Why You Don't Need Fossil Fuel to Fight Poverty. (Clean Energy Does it Better!)

Bob, that's pretty unfair to Todd's comment. He is simply noting where we are starting from as you consider improving energy access in many emerging economies, and his comment talked about boosting per capita electricity consumption levels 20-fold. He's hardly championing "a diet of insects, of fetid drinking water, of healthcare that is deplorable." Please try to keep things on topic and avoid fighting with straw men...

Jesse

February 27, 2014    View Comment    

On Oral Argument Hints that Supreme Court May Trim Back US Industrial Source Greenhouse Gas Regulations

Excellent run-down of this complex and important case. Thanks James! We're excited to have you as a contributor at TheEnergyCollective.com. 

February 26, 2014    View Comment    

On Seeking Consensus: A New Project on the Energy Collective

Roger,

Thanks for this comment and suggestion. I'll bring this up with our technical team. I agree with you this would be a major upgrade for the comments at TEC and I'll see what I can do. Thanks and keep reading!

Jesse

February 24, 2014    View Comment    

On Seeking Consensus: A New Project on the Energy Collective

We're excited to see this project take shape Schalk, and we at TheEnergyCollective.com definitely encourage our readers to participate in the "Seeking Consensus" process! Let's make this work. Cheers,

Jesse Jenkins

February 24, 2014    View Comment    

On Daniel Yergin: Looking Back and Forward at Big Trends in Energy

Hi Robert,

Thanks for the note, and for the quick fact the check. I've corrected that line to read "Part of the challenge is that global electricity demand is rising faster than renewable electricity output..."

RE Coal and China: Yergin did spend time talking about the rise of China and the importance of global shifts in energy demand to the emerging economies, as I noted in the post. He was less clear about the recent continued global growth of coal, likely reflecting the US-centric bias of his remarks. While touching on global trends, he really was talking about the major energy trends in the US from 2005-2014, and here, coal has been on the decline, even as it continues to grow rapidly abroad. Thanks for adding in that critical global perspective. Cheers,

Jesse

February 24, 2014    View Comment    

On EIA Increases Short-Term Coal Retirement Prediction by 50%

Joe, it's important to note that EIA's projections are not really a "most probable" scenario, they are a "policy as usual" scenario. That is, they assume only existing laws and regulations on the books and no additional policy. So, for example, this forecast does not include any forecast regarding the effects of planned CO2 regulations on existing power plants which EPA is currently developing (and plans to release a draft rule this summer). Nor does it include any future acts of Congress. EIA forecasts have to be read in that light. Cheers,

Jesse

February 21, 2014    View Comment    

On Do Methane Leaks Negate Climate Benefits of Natural Gas? Four Takeaways From a New Science Study

Thanks for the comment Geoff. Regarding the studies implications, I think it both casts doubt on the climate benefits of increased gas use in transportation (note it says nothing about the potentially substantial public health, air quality, and/or energy security benefits) and points the way to reducing emissions and improving the net balance of climate benefits. Still, from the LCA analyis I've seen (including a wells-to-wheels assessment I performed as my thesis in 2006), the climate case for gas as a transport fuel was fairly marginal to begin with. It doesn't take that significant of a methane leakage rate to erode most if not all of those benefits. 

Jesse

February 14, 2014    View Comment